Key Symbolism

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Key Symbolism and Meaning

Key Symbolism and meaningIn key symbolism keys represent knowledge and success. They can open doors which are closed to other than the key holder. Possessing a key gives a person access to locked rooms.

The key is also a symbol of freedom and liberation.

In modern romantic notion a key necklace may symbolize “the key to my heart”.

This is a love symbol much like the heart symbol.

Keys have been used as a symbol of authority and power for ages in many societies and ceremonies around the world.

Key Superstitions

Earlier it was not uncommon that Jewish midwives would place a key in the hand of a woman giving birth. Preferably the key should be to a synagogue. The sacred key was meant to “unlock” the infant and ensure a safe delivery of the baby.

In Eastern Europe there was a superstition that a key brought good dreams to the owner. The key had the power to prevent all bad dreams. To make this work a key was hung upside down on the wall over the bed.

In Ionia, located in present day Turkey, there was a tradition to bury the dead with an iron key. It was important the dead could unlock the door to the Underworld.

Crossed Key Symbolism

Jesus handing Peter the keys Perugino

In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus symbolically gives Peter the keys to heaven.

It is these two verses in the Bible that are used to explain why Peter is considered the first Pope in the Catholic Church.


“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19

Legend has made Saint Peter the gatekeeper of heaven.

His gold key represents his power to dissolve any sin and open the door to heaven and eternal life. His silver key represents his power to lock out unworthy souls from the gate of heaven.

Coat of arms Holy SeeA newly consecrated Pope will receive two diagonally crossed keys in silver and gold.

This emblem symbolizes supreme authority and the “Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven”. The crossed keys are shown in the coat of arms of the Holy See.

The silver key represents the spiritual authority of the Pope. The gold key represents the power of the heaven. The cord binds these two together.




Saint Martha

Saint MarthaMartha was the sister of Lazarus and Mary. They lived in the city of Bethany near Jerusalem. They were friends of Jesus. Lazarus was the one Jesus resurrected from the dead. Stories about when Jesus came to visit can be read in Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-53, and John 12:1-9.

Martha is the patron saint of homemakers, housewives, butlers, servants, hotel-keepers and cooks. Her feast day is July 29th. Her attributions are keys and the broom.

Janus – Roman God of the Gates and Doors

Janus is the two-faced Roman god of gates.  He could look in both directions at the same time. All doors have an entrance and an exit. He was the gatekeeper.

Janus Roman God of GatesHe could see the past as well as the future. Janus was the beginning and the end. He was wisdom.

He could grant success and new opportunities.

He is sometimes shown carrying keys in his left hand and his staff in his right hand.

He was the god of new beginnings.  The month of January is named after Janus.

The Ceremony of the Keys

The Ceremony of the Keys is quite famous. It takes part in the Tower of London every single night. It is a gate closing ritual performed by Yeoman Warders, often called Beefeaters.

The chief Yeoman Warder carries a candle lantern and the Queens keys.  This ceremony is a very old tradition. It has been performed every single night at 21:52 for the past 700 years.

Earlier it was more about securing members of the royal family and other important people staying at the Tower of London. Today it is mostly about securing the crown jewels.

This ceremony is extremely popular. It is possible to attend, but you will have to book your ticket months in advance. They do not allow any pictures to be taken.




Girl Scouts Key Symbolism

In the Girl Scouts there is a tradition to have a ceremony when a girl scout advances from one level to the next. When a Junior Girl Scout advances to the Cadette Girl Scout she is presented a silver key.

The leader declares:

” I present to you a Silver Key, which symbolizes that you are seeking to unlock the doors to Cadette Girl Scouts a as you begin work on the Silver Leadership and Silver award.

Wear it as a symbol that you are passing through the doorway to new experiences where you will gain an understanding of your own self-worth and individuality. Now as Cadette’s, let us recited the Girl Scout Promise and Law.”

Skeleton Keys

Skeleton keys are keys that can unlock multiple locks. Some call them pass keys. The name skeleton keys came about because the keys have been filed down of its essential parts. Some people also call antique keys for skeleton keys.

Skeleton keysSkeleton keys are used as amulets and talisman all over the world. They are used to help the owner make all their innermost and important dreams come true.

It could be in any area; love, finances, career, exams. The skeleton key is there to assist you see possibilities and solutions. It opens the doors of opportunity so that you can reach your goal.

The Skeleton Key is also the title of a thriller-horror movie produced in 2005 staring Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, and Joy Bryant

Key Charm and Key Necklace

The symbolism of the key is quite obvious; it opens a door. It is a symbol of opening the door to your heart.

A key charm or a key necklace is a popular gift to give on important birthdays as the 16th, 18th and 21st birthday. It symbolizes opening doors for a brighter future. It represents opening of the doors to a successful career and new possibilities.

Many may wear a key charm or necklace when looking for a job or a change of work place. It is believed to be an amulet that will assist the wearing find doors of opportunity.


Some people will buy a key charm for themselves when they move into a new home. This will ensure a happy home.

In Japan it is not uncommon to find charms made up of three keys joined together. The three keys are said to unlock the secrets to wisdom, life and love.

What more can you ask for? Time to get the three keys!

heart key
“Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.” Oliver Wendell Holmes